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Complaints about Gambling Operators

Contact us: 0203 621 3908 or 07827 961764 or by email to enquiries@promediate.co.uk

SUMMARY OF ADR PROCESS

  • Raise complaint with ProMediate – Acknowledged within 3 days and inform of rights
  • ProMediate will contact Gambling Operator within 7 days
  • ProMediate will appoint a mediator who will consider any conflict of interest
  • Mediator will negotiate between parties in good faith keeping customer informed every 30 days
  • Outcome within 90 days. Binding if agreement reached
  • Reconsideration at any stage within 3 months of outcome

DETAILS OF ADR PROCESS

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We have been approved to provide ADR to Gambling Commission operators bound by the Licence Conditions of Practice (LCCP) Social Responsibility Code 6.1.1

In accordance with the Gambling Commission’s LCCP the mediation services we provide to Gambling Operators is free to the consumer although Gambling Operators pay a scale of fees for us to deal with the dispute.  Members pay a fee of £100 per dispute and Non-Members pay £150 per dispute.

We are the named ADR Providers for the following Operators:

Members of the The British Racecourse Bookmakers’ Association

Maxent Limited t/a Slotty Vegas and Betat Casino

Alea

Other operators pay an annual fee of £100 plus VAT

The ADR system is essentially the same as consumer disputes as certified by the Chartered Trading Standards Limited.  However we abide by the Gambling Commission ADR requirements which impose additional requirements as set out in the attached Framework document from 31 October 2018.

2018-09-27-ADR-framework

We set out below key sections of The Framework which we abide by in our process:

“What complaints can be taken to ADR?

  1. 2.8  The ADR Regulations require only certain types of complaints to be taken to ADR. We call these ‘disputes’. The European ADR Directive states that it applies to “disputes between consumers and businesses concerning contractual obligations in sales or services contracts, both online and offline” (emphasis added).
  2. 2.9  In the gambling sector, we have defined complaints and disputes as follows:

Gambling-related complaint
An expression of dissatisfaction made to the gambling business by any means, about any aspect of the way the business conducts the activities for which they hold a GB licence. For example, a complaint:
 about the outcome of a gambling transaction/contract
 about the way a gambling transaction has been managed
 that concerns the way the licence holder carries out its business in relation to the three licensing objectives.

We expect gambling businesses to take specific actions and meet certain standards when they handle gambling related complaints. This is a requirement of their gambling licence.

Dispute
A dispute is a particular type of gambling-related complaint. It is a complaint about contractual obligations in sales or services contracts or about the customer’s gambling transaction (including management of the transaction and related customer accounts) that has not been resolved through the gambling business’s complaints procedure.1 For example, a dispute might be an unresolved complaint:
 linked to the terms of a bonus offer that the consumer has taken up, or to other terms and conditions
 about the consumer’s ability to manage his or her account
 about the consumer’s ability to access his or her deposited funds or winnings.

Disputes are the only type of complaints that may be taken to ADR under this policy.

Non-gambling (non-contractual) complaint
An expression of dissatisfaction made to the gambling business by any means about any matter that is not related to the gambling activities. Such complaints, which do not pose a risk to the licensing objectives, do not fall under the scope of this policy. For example, a complaint about the: quality of food available on the premises
 range of products offered in the premises or online
 dress code of a member of staff.

Non-gambling complaints, although important to consumers and to businesses, do not link to the requirements of the gambling licence. We therefore expect businesses to decide for themselves how they should resolve such complaints.

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether a complaint is gambling-related. For example, a complaint about poor customer service or poorly trained staff manning a telephone or online chat may not appear to be gambling-related. However, it might be gambling-related if the poor service makes it difficult or impossible for the consumer to promptly raise concerns or make a complaint about a contractual matter. Where the type of complaint is unclear, it is generally better to at least initially treat it as a gambling-related complaint.”

Transparency

The Gambling Commission requires ADR bodies which make decisions to provide copies of evidence relied upon to the complainant:

The ADR provider will determine what method(s) of dispute resolution to use during a dispute. It should identify the key issues and seek additional information from either party to the dispute to clarify information they have already supplied. For example, if the provider identifies a gap in the evidence it is acceptable to ask either party to the dispute about the gap and for information that fills it. The ADR provider does not have an investigatory role beyond this. It would not be acceptable for the provider to undertake an investigation that went beyond clarifying the information supplied by the parties to the dispute.

The outcome of the ADR process will not supersede the gambling consumer’s right to refer a dispute about a gambling transaction to court if the consumer does not agree with the gambling business or the provider’s decision. This right originates with the Gambling Act 2005 and is also contained in the ADR Regulations (Schedule 3, 8(c)).

Where the ADR provider makes a decision on a dispute using an adjudication process, it should base this on the evidence available to it at the time. This means that:

• if a gambling business does not engage with the ADR provider and/or fails to supply information that has been reasonably requested, the provider should proceed to make the decision based on the evidence they hold. This may mean that the provider finds the case in favour of the consumer in the absence of evidence to the contrary.

• if a court or regulatory body considers the matter at a later stage and reaches a different outcome, this does not make the ADR provider’s decision wrong at the time that it was made. The court or regulatory body may have access to different information and use a different approach to the ADR provider. ADR providers should consider whether court findings provide any opportunity for learning in the future. This could also include findings related to consumer protection legislation or marketing and advertising.

ADR Regulations – requirements for ADR providers to disclose evidence

The ADR Regulations require a provider to disclose to a party to a dispute on request the arguments, evidence, documents and facts put forward by the other party (ADR Regulations Schedule 3, 7(b)) as part of the requirements under fairness.

In the gambling industry, we expect providers to ensure consumers are made aware of this right so that they can consider whether to exercise it.

Providers should also note the following:

  • other legislation such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) wouldprevent disclosure of certain information, in which case, the provider may redact theinformation (see also paragraph 2.22 below).
  • neither party to the dispute is obliged to provide information to the provider.However, any information they do provide could be disclosed.
  • if either party refuses to provide information, then the ADR provider should attemptto resolve the dispute based on the information that it has.
  • Providers are also obliged to follow other relevant regulations, for example, the GDPR and Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Player) Regulations 2017 (Money laundering regulations) where appropriate. Providers can find some general information on GDPR on our website. More information is available from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which is responsible for enforcing data protection legislation and issuing guidance on it.

Grounds for Refusal to Deal with A Dispute

As explained in paragraph 2.8, the ADR Regulations refer to disputes about contractual obligations in sales or service contracts. In LCCP and our associated guidance, we clarify that ADR providers may consider ‘disputes’. These are complaints about the customer’s gambling transaction (including management of the transaction and related customer accounts) that have not been resolved at the first stage of the gambling business’s complaints procedure.

ADR Regulations – ground to refuse to deal with a complaint

The ADR Regulations list the only grounds under which an ADR provider may refuse to deal with a dispute (ADR Regulations Schedule 3, paragraph 13). Text shown in italics is quoted directly from the ADR Regulations. The non-italicised text beneath each item explains how we expect the regulations to apply in the gambling industry.

  1. a)  Prior to submitting the complaint to the body, the consumer has not attempted to contact the trader concerned in order to discuss the consumer’s complaint, and sought, as a first step, to resolve the matter directly with the trader.
    Consumers must first approach the gambling business to attempt to resolve a complaint before escalating to ADR. Gambling businesses are generally required as a condition of their licence to resolve the complaint, or agree that no resolution can be reached, within a maximum time of eight weeks from receiving the complaint.2 If the complaint remains unresolved at this stage, the business should issue a ‘deadlock letter’ or final letter to confirm that the consumer has attempted to resolve the matter with the business and may now escalate the matter to ADR. This applies whether or not the consumer has fully exhausted the business’s complaints procedure at the eight-week stage.
  2. b)  The dispute is frivolous or vexatious.
    The ADR provider may determine whether a dispute is frivolous or vexatious, and if so, refuse to deal with it. The gambling business may not refuse to refer a consumer’s complaint to an ADR provider on these grounds.
  3. c)  The dispute is being, or has been previously, considered by another ADR entity or by a court.The ADR system is intended to be a light-touch alternative to court proceedings. It is not intended to provide parties to a dispute with repeated opportunities to achieve a different outcome. If the consumer is not satisfied with the decision of an ADR provider, they have the option to refer the matter to a court.
  4. d)  The value of the claim falls above or below the monetary thresholds set by a body.Gambling disputes can vary in value quite significantly. ADR providers should ensure that monetary thresholds set do not significantly restrict consumers’ access to ADR.
  5. e)  The consumer has not submitted the complaint to the body within the time period specified by the body, provided that such time period is not less than 12 months from the date upon which the trader has given notice to the consumer that the trader is unable to resolve the complaint with the consumer.
  6. f)  Dealing with such a dispute would seriously impair the effective operation of the body.
    An ADR provider might refuse to deal with a dispute that raises difficult legal issues fit for determination by a court (which might set a precedent). Similarly, a provider might refuse a dispute that is more properly determined by a regulator, such as the Commission. The ADR provider should not be considering potential breaches of gambling licence where there is no transactional/contractual element to make the matter a dispute. However, the provider should consider whether there are contractual/transactional aspects that the provider could consider.

2 But see Social responsibility code provision 6.1.1.2 in LCCP, which permits a gambling business to ‘stop the clock’ on the eight-week time limit where a consumer fails to engage with the process within a reasonable timescale.

3.3  Where a body refuses to deal with a dispute, it must, within three weeks of the date upon which it received the complaint file, inform both parties and provide a reasoned explanation of the grounds for not considering the dispute (ADR Regulations Schedule 3, para 15). The complete complaint file is made up of all the documents containing the relevant information relating to the dispute (ADR Regulations Schedule 3, para 6(c)). We interpret that this does not include any additional comment made by a party to the dispute on the arguments, evidence, documents and facts put forward by the other party to the dispute.

3.4  The provider must also ensure that its policy regarding when it will refuse to deal with a dispute, including in relation to any monetary threshold it sets, does not significantly impair consumers’ access to its alternative dispute resolution procedures (ADR Regulations Schedule 3, para 14)

3.5  This policy does not cover non-contractual complaints. An ADR provider and a gambling business may come to an agreement for the provider to look into other complaints about the business if they choose. The provider may also refuse such complaints if they have not made an agreement with the business to consider them.

Please note the position regarding regulatory matters:

Types of disputes linked to regulatory matters could include (please note that these examples are not exhaustive):

  • Non-payment of winnings/ account suspended due to anti-money laundering (AML) concernsWe expect ADR providers to consider the dispute based on the gambling business’s actions and the available evidence from both parties. The ADR provider does not need to know whether the gambling business has submitted a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) to the appropriate authority to do this, and the gambling business should not disclose this information to the provider. If the ADR provider decides the dispute in the consumer’s favour, the gambling business should pay the consumer/return the consumer’s funds. Where the business continues to suspect or knows that the customer is laundering money, they may do this by submitting a defence against money laundering (DAML) SAR, requesting a defence for potential money laundering offences in respect of the transaction in question (that of paying off the customer). If consent is refused, it will be for the gambling business to seek information from appropriate authorities on what may be disclosed to the consumer. We intend to provide some additional information to gambling businesses to remind them of these obligations.
  • Non-payment of winnings/account suspension due to issues related to fraud or crime, but not money laundering.
    We expect ADR providers to consider the dispute based on the gambling business’s actions and the available evidence from both parties. Relevant considerations could include whether there is an ongoing police or criminal investigation, or the suspicion has been reported to the authorities. Providers should note that unless prevented from doing so by legislation (such as criminal, or linked to data protection), they must be prepared to share the evidence on which they base their decision with both parties to the dispute, as required by the ADR Regulations, Schedule 3, part 7 (Fairness).
  • Account suspended due to failed identity checks/ refusal to comply with identity checksWe expect ADR providers to consider the dispute based on the gambling business’s actions and the available evidence from both parties. ADR providers may wish to consider the nature of the information that the gambling business is requesting the consumer to provide, and whether it appears to be reasonable/fair in accordance with the requirements of consumer protection legislation and money laundering regulations. The provider may also wish to consider the reasons behind and the timing of the request. For example, if a gambling business allows a consumer to continue to deposit funds while refusing to allow him or her to withdraw them, this might cast some doubt on the necessity of the checks. Providers should note that in September 2018 we launched a consultation looking at age and identity verification issues. Pending the outcome of the consultation, we may require businesses to at least verify the basic identity of customers before the customer is permitted to gamble.
  • Non-payment of winnings/account suspended/bet voided due to issues related to suspected irregular betting or match fixing.
    We expect ADR providers to consider the dispute based on the gambling business’s actions and the available evidence from both parties. If a gambling business suspects that a bet is irregular, or that an event has been fixed, they may report the matter to the appropriate authority, including our Sport Betting Integrity Unit (SBIU). The gambling business should decide whether to pay out on the wager. The ADR provider should therefore be able to consider any dispute, based on the evidence provided.
  • Disputing that the gaming machine is rigged or unfair.
    The ADR provider will need to establish any contractual/transactional element of the issue. For example, whether the gambling consumer is disputing that certain transactions they have made have been affected by an unfair game or is just making a general complaint that the game is not fair because they have not won. Where a contractual/transactional dispute is identified, the ADR provider could consider information held by the gambling business, for example, to establish whether a game has been tested, recent evidence of ongoing monitoring of the return to player (RTP), or an audit record of a gaming machine, to consider any transactional element of a dispute. The provider may need to ask the operator to obtain this information.
  • Disputes linked to technical issues
    Technical issues could include, for example, a game that displays a win for the consumer when there was actually a loss, or game or lottery tickets that do not print correctly, etc. A significant number of complaints about the same game/gambling business may indicate a wider problem that would interest us. We expect the ADR provider to consider the contractual/transaction dispute in each individual complaint they receive.
  • Permitted to gamble when self-excluded
    A consumer may enter into a self-exclusion agreement with a gambling business, under which the consumer agrees to exclude themselves from gambling with the business and the business agrees to help prevent the consumer from accessing the gambling facilities. The ADR provider’s role does not include considering whether the business’s self-exclusion policy is effective – this is a requirement of the business’s licence and is a matter for us. However, we expect the provider to consider whether terms and conditions attached to any self-exclusion agreement are clear and fair in accordance with the requirements of consumer protection legislation, and whether it would be clear to the consumer that they were excluded from the channel, platform or premises from which they attempted to gamble.
    ADR providers should note that multi-operator self-exclusion schemes are in operation for both online and land-based gambling sectors. The gambling businesses do not run the multi-operator schemes, and therefore do not have responsibility for the terms and conditions or clarity of the schemes. As a result, complaints related to these schemes are a matter for us.
  • Disputing that the gambling business should have intervened to prevent the consumer from coming to harm/spending their money
    We expect gambling businesses to intervene if a consumer appears to be at risk of being harmed by their gambling. Businesses must take account of a range of factors in determining whether to intervene, such as patterns of play, observed behaviour, language used in communicating, as well as time or money spent to determine whether to intervene, and may need to develop this information over a period of time.
    As a result, it is unlikely that ADR providers will be able to identify a specific contractual/transactional element to the issue.
  • Disputes linked to unfair terms or practices
    ADR providers must consider consumer protection legislation when looking at disputes. We have been working with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to ensure terms and conditions offered by gambling consumers meet the requirements of consumer legislation. This includes, for example, considering whether a contract term is fair, whether the consumer is being unfairly prevented from withdrawing funds and where key terms omitted from marketing or advertising materials may have misled a consumer. The CMA has published its advice to operators and consumers on its website. Further information can be found on ourwebsite. ADR providers need to be aware that although this advice was published in 2018, the Consumer Rights Act came into effect in 2015, and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRS) have been effective since 2008 and therefore apply to earlier disputes.
  • From 31 October 2018, new requirements for gambling businesses come into force. These require businesses to comply with the advertising codes of practice issued by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP). We have worked with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and CAP to deliver key messages and guidance to industry, including CAP guidance on the marketing of free bets and bonuses and responsible advertising. ADR providers should take ASA rulings and CAP guidance into account when considering disputes where these are relevant.
  •  Note that the ADR provider is not required to determine whether the gambling business has breached the terms of its licence or otherwise. The ADR provider may only consider contractual/transactional matters based on the evidence available at the time of the decision.
  • Binding Outcomes
  • We expect that the outcome of the dispute process should be binding on both parties if the consumer agrees with the outcome for disputes which would otherwise be taken to the small claims court (disputes of not more than £10,000). The ADR procedure need not be binding for disputes over £10,000. This will allow, for example, for mediation to be employed for larger figures, or for adjudication decisions to be non-binding.
  • If the consumer does not agree with the outcome, they may choose to take the matter to an appropriate court.Reconsidering the outcome of the dispute resolution processWe recognise that there may be times when a provider may receive information relevant to the outcome of a dispute after the outcome has been issued. For example, the consumer may provide an email that the ADR provider has not seen before. The existence of a new email in itself would not necessarily be grounds to reopen a dispute. But if the email contained new information that impacted on the dispute, then the provider should consider whether the dispute should be reopened.
  • Summary of Commission and ADR Regulation requirements for updating consumers during a dispute.

    ADR Regulations’ Life of dispute Commission’s Requirements requirements

     

    In summary, under the new standards we expect ADR providers to:

    • acknowledge receipt of the consumer’s initial contact within 3 working days. This may be done as part of the requirement to notify the consumer of their right to withdraw, and of their rights around independent legal advice, as per the requirements of the ADR Regulations.
    • 5.7 The ADR Regulations require ADR providers to provide parties to a dispute with certain information during the course of the dispute. The provider must:

      • notify all parties to a dispute as soon as it has received all of the information that makes up the complete complaint file (see definition at para 3.3 and in glossary) ADR providers should note that the Commission’s guidance to gambling businesses recommends that businesses ensure that they respond to requests from ADR providers for information about disputes in full and within ten working days (though businesses can choose what information they provide). Businesses should not unnecessarily delay providing the information that the ADR provider requests. Where the business delays in providing information without reasonable explanation, the ADR provider should consider reporting the matter to the Commission.
      • before the ADR procedure begins, informs the customer that they have the right to withdraw from the procedure at any stage
      • inform the parties that they are not obliged to have a legal adviser, but that they may seek independent advice or be represented or assisted by a third party at any stage of the alternative dispute resolution process
      • notify the parties with the outcome of the dispute within 90 days from the date on which the provider received the complete complaint file. Where the case is highly complex, the body may extend this period, but must inform the parties of this extension and how long it expects the process to take.provide an update to the consumer at the end of each 30 days that the dispute is ongoing (once the ADR provider has received all the documents that make up the
         

        Under the ADR Regulations (5(n)), information that ADR providers must make publicly available includes the legal effect of the outcome of the dispute resolution process, including whether the outcome is enforceable and the penalties for non-compliance with the outcome, if any.

        We therefore expect ADR providers to make available to consumers information on:

        • whether they will reconsider the outcome of a dispute after the outcome has been issued
        • the circumstances or grounds for such reconsideration to take place
        • time-limits for requesting such reconsideration, and the process that it will follow
        • what will happen at the end of the process.

        Independence, transparency, consistency and quality

        Requirements of the ADR Regulations

        1. 4.1  The ADR Regulations require the ADR provider and officials to be independent of the parties to a dispute. This includes:
          • ADR officials must be appointed for a term of office sufficient to ensure the independence of the person’s actions, and provides that no official can be relieved of their duties without just cause (Schedule 3, 3(b))
          • ADR officials must not be remunerated in a way that is linked to the outcome of the dispute resolution process (Schedule 3, 3(d))
          • where ADR officials are employed or remunerated by a professional organisation or business association, the entity must have a ring-fenced budget to enable it to carry out its functions as an ADR entity (Schedule 3, 3(g))
          • where the ADR provider operates a dispute resolution model that is a collegiate body of representatives of both professional organisations/business associations and consumer organisations, ADR officials must comprise an equal number of representatives of consumer interests and trader interests (Schedule 3, 3(h)).
        2. 4.2  The ADR Regulations also set out criteria that ADR providers must meet in terms of expertise, impartiality, effectiveness and fairness. These include:
          • ensuring that an ADR official possesses a general understanding of the law and the necessary knowledge and skills relating to the out-of-court or judicial resolution of consumer disputes (ADR Regulations Schedule 3, 3(a)).
          • ensuring that no ADR official discharges his or her duties in a way that is biased as regards a part to a dispute, or the representative of a party (ADR Regulations Schedule 3, 3(c)).
          • ensuring that parties to a dispute may express their points of view, and may request sight of, and opportunity to comment on, evidence, documents, arguments and facts put forward by the other party to the dispute. (ADR Regulations Schedule 3, 7(a) – (c)).

        The Ombudsman Association’s six principles of good governance

        The Ombudsman Association (OA) suggests that, for a scheme to be credible, all stakeholders must have confidence in it and in the independence and effectiveness of the official in the role of investigating and resolving consumer or public service complaints. The OA suggests six principles of good governance:

        Independence

        Ensuring and demonstrating the freedom of the office holder from interference in decision making: • Freedom from interference in decision making on complaints
        • Appropriate and proportionate structure and financial arrangements
        • Appointment, re-appointment and remuneration of the office holder consistent with ensuring independence
        • Governance arrangements which ensure and safeguard the independence of the office holder and scheme
        • Those involved in the governance of the scheme to conduct themselves at all best times in the best interest of the scheme

        Openness and transparency

        Ensuring openness and transparency in order that stakeholders can have confidence in the decision-making and management processes of the scheme:

        • Clear explanation of legal constitution, governance and funding arrangements
        • Open and clear policies and procedures, and clear criteria for decision making
        • Clear and proper recording of decisions and actions
        • Free availability of information and publication of decisions, consistent with statute, contract and good practice
        • Clear delegation arrangements, including levels of authority
        • Register of interests, to apply to the office holder, appropriate staff members and members of any governing body

        Accountability

        Ensuring that all members of the scheme, including the office holder staff members and members of any governing body are seen to be responsible and accountable for their decisions and actions, including the stewardship of funds (with due regard to the independence of the office holder)
        • Subject to appropriate public or external scrutiny
        • Accountable to stakeholders for the operation of the scheme
        • Financial accountability, and appropriate internal controls to demonstrate the highest standards of financial probity
        • Robust mechanism for review of service quality • Clear ‘whistle-blowing’ policy

        Integrity

        Ensuring straightforward dealing and completeness, based on honesty, selflessness and objectivity, and ensuring high standards of probity and propriety in the conduct of the scheme’s affairs and complaint decision making.
        • Impartiality in all activities
        • Identify, declare and deal with conflicts of interest (Including office-holder, staff members and members of any governing body)
        • Compliance of all those involved in the governance or operation of the scheme with relevant principles of public conduct
        • Arrangements for dealing with conflicts about governance issues

        Clarity of Purpose

        Ensuring that stakeholders know why the scheme exists, what it does, and what to expect from it

        • Explanation of the purpose of the scheme and who it serves
        • Clear status and mandate of the scheme
        • Clarity of extent of jurisdiction
        • Governance arrangements which are clear in relation to the office holder’s adjudication role

        Effectiveness

        Ensuring that the scheme delivers quality outcomes efficiently and represents good value for money
        • Leadership which defines and promotes the values of the scheme
        • Keeping to commitments
        • Good internal planning and review processes
        • Quality assurance and a process for review of service
        • Quality outcomes for complainant, organisation complained about, scheme and all other stakeholders
        • Recommendations accepted by bodies in jurisdiction
        • Effective risk management controls
        • Cost effectiveness for money

        We expect that the outcome of the dispute process should be binding on both parties if the consumer agrees with the outcome for disputes which would otherwise be taken to the small claims court (disputes of not more than £10,000). The ADR procedure need not be binding for disputes over £10,000. This will allow, for example, for mediation to be employed for larger figures, or for adjudication decisions to be non-binding.

        If the consumer does not agree with the outcome, they may choose to take the matter to an appropriate court.

        Reconsidering the outcome of the dispute resolution process

        We recognise that there may be times when a provider may receive information relevant to the outcome of a dispute after the outcome has been issued. For example, the consumer may provide an email that the ADR provider has not seen before. The existence of a new email in itself would not necessarily be grounds to reopen a dispute. But if the email contained new information that impacted on the dispute, then the provider should consider whether the dispute should be reopened.

        Under the ADR Regulations (5(n)), information that ADR providers must make publicly available includes the legal effect of the outcome of the dispute resolution process, including whether the outcome is enforceable and the penalties for non-compliance with the outcome, if any.

        We therefore expect ADR providers to make available to consumers information on:
        • whether they will reconsider the outcome of a dispute after the outcome has been
        issued
        • the circumstances or grounds for such reconsideration to take place
        • time-limits for requesting such reconsideration, and the process that it will follow
        • what will happen at the end of the process.

        Independence, transparency, consistency and quality
        Requirements of the ADR Regulations

        The ADR Regulations require the ADR provider and officials to be independent of the parties to a dispute. This includes:
        • ADR officials must be appointed for a term of office sufficient to ensure the independence of the person’s actions, and provides that no official can be relieved of their duties without just cause (Schedule 3, 3(b))
        • ADR officials must not be remunerated in a way that is linked to the outcome of the dispute resolution process (Schedule 3, 3(d))
        • where ADR officials are employed or remunerated by a professional organisation or business association, the entity must have a ring-fenced budget to enable it to carry out its functions as an ADR entity (Schedule 3, 3(g))
        • where the ADR provider operates a dispute resolution model that is a collegiate body of representatives of both professional organisations/business associations and consumer organisations, ADR officials must comprise an equal number of representatives of consumer interests and trader interests (Schedule 3, 3(h)).
        4.2 The ADR Regulations also set out criteria that ADR providers must meet in terms of expertise, impartiality, effectiveness and fairness. These include:
        • ensuring that an ADR official possesses a general understanding of the law and the necessary knowledge and skills relating to the out-of-court or judicial resolution of consumer disputes (ADR Regulations Schedule 3, 3(a)).
        • ensuring that no ADR official discharges his or her duties in a way that is biased as regards a part to a dispute, or the representative of a party (ADR Regulations Schedule 3, 3(c)).
        • ensuring that parties to a dispute may express their points of view, and may request sight of, and opportunity to comment on, evidence, documents, arguments and facts put forward by the other party to the dispute. (ADR Regulations Schedule 3, 7(a) – (c)).

        The Ombudsman Association’s six principles of good governance

        The Ombudsman Association (OA) suggests that, for a scheme to be credible, all stakeholders must have confidence in it and in the independence and effectiveness of the official in the role of investigating and resolving consumer or public service complaints. The OA suggests six principles of good governance:

        Independence

        Ensuring and demonstrating the freedom of the office holder from interference in decision making: • Freedom from interference in decision making on complaints
        • Appropriate and proportionate structure and financial arrangements
        • Appointment, re-appointment and remuneration of the office holder consistent with ensuring
        independence
        • Governance arrangements which ensure and safeguard the independence of the office
        holder and scheme
        • Those involved in the governance of the scheme to conduct themselves at all best times in
        the best interest of the scheme

        Openness and transparency

        Ensuring openness and transparency in order that stakeholders can have confidence in the decision-making and management processes of the scheme:

        • Clear explanation of legal constitution, governance and funding arrangements
        • Open and clear policies and procedures, and clear criteria for decision making
        • Clear and proper recording of decisions and actions
        • Free availability of information and publication of decisions, consistent with statute, contract
        and good practice
        • Clear delegation arrangements, including levels of authority
        • Register of interests, to apply to the office holder, appropriate staff members and members of
        any governing body

        Accountability

        Ensuring that all members of the scheme, including the office holder staff members and members of any governing body are seen to be responsible and accountable for their decisions and actions, including the stewardship of funds (with due regard to the independence of the office holder)
        • Subject to appropriate public or external scrutiny
        • Accountable to stakeholders for the operation of the scheme
        • Financial accountability, and appropriate internal controls to demonstrate the highest
        standards of financial probity
        • Robust mechanism for review of service quality
        • Clear ‘whistle-blowing’ policy

        Integrity

        Ensuring straightforward dealing and completeness, based on honesty, selflessness and objectivity, and ensuring high standards of probity and propriety in the conduct of the scheme’s affairs and complaint decision making.
        • Impartiality in all activities
        • Identify, declare and deal with conflicts of interest (Including office-holder, staff members and
        members of any governing body)
        • Compliance of all those involved in the governance or operation of the scheme with relevant
        principles of public conduct
        • Arrangements for dealing with conflicts about governance issues

        Clarity of Purpose

        Ensuring that stakeholders know why the scheme exists, what it does, and what to expect from it • Explanation of the purpose of the scheme and who it serves
        • Clear status and mandate of the scheme
        • Clarity of extent of jurisdiction
        • Governance arrangements which are clear in relation to the office holder’s adjudication role
        Effectiveness
        Ensuring that the scheme delivers quality outcomes efficiently and represents good value for money
        • Leadership which defines and promotes the values of the scheme
        • Keeping to commitments
        • Good internal planning and review processes
        • Quality assurance and a process for review of service
        • Quality outcomes for complainant, organisation complained about, scheme and all other
        stakeholders
        • Recommendations accepted by bodies in jurisdiction • Effective risk management controls
        • Cost effectiveness for money

        We agree with the high-level principles set out by the OA. We expect ADR providers in the gambling sector to meet these principles, regardless of whether the provider is a member of the OA. We will assess the independence of ADR providers against these principles.
        4.4 In particular, we expect the ADR provider to:
        • be transparent about and make public information on how it is funded, and how it is
        independent
        • provide clear information about the purpose of the scheme
        • publish clear criteria to gambling businesses and customers about its methods and
        manner of, and timescales for, handling disputes
        • At least annually, implement a robust review or audit of dispute outcomes, service
        standards and service quality as well as governance arrangements.

        We expect providers’ policies and procedures for decision making to take account of the balance of power within a dispute. Some consumers (such as those with health problems, literacy problems, or those who are unfamiliar with gambling) may find it particularly difficult to state their case or understand arguments advanced by the other party. We expect providers to take account of the consumer’s needs when requesting or sharing information. This includes providing information clearly, tailored to the consumer’s level of understanding and asking the right questions to elicit information.

        We expect providers to ensure that parties to a dispute are made aware of their right to request the information put forward by the other party as soon as possible in the dispute process. All such information should be provided to them in a timely manner.

        The only exception to this requirement is where sharing evidence or information may result in a conflict with other law or regulations. For example, where sharing personal information may contravene the GDPR, or sharing information that alerts a customer that they are being investigated for money laundering concerns may constitute a criminal offence under the Money Laundering Regulations.

        We also expect ADR providers to publish performance data to help demonstrate to consumers that their procedures are transparent and independent. This may be in the form of key performance indicators (KPIs) measuring certain metrics of the ADR process. For example:
        • numbers of disputes received
        • average time taken to handle disputes
        • number/ percentage of disputes that took over 90 days to resolve from the date the
        provider received the complete complaint file
        • percentage of disputes formally resolved in favour of the customer
        • percentage of disputes formally resolved in favour of the gambling business
        • percentage of disputes resolved informally with agreement from both parties
        • numbers of disputes refused
        • metrics that the provider may collect related to customer satisfaction (for example,
        on clarity of information provided, ease of process, time taken to respond, final outcome).

        We expect providers to publish this information at regular intervals to supplement/ feed into the information in the provider’s annual report, as required by the ADR Regulations.

        Conflicts of interests

        A conflict of interest may arise if an ADR official is involved in a dispute in which they have an interest, whether this interest is personal, financial or another interest. Both the ADR Regulations and the OA principles of good governance require arrangements to be put in place to safeguard against conflicts of interests.

        The obligation to disclose a conflict of interest remains a continuing obligation throughout the alternative dispute resolution procedure (ADR Regulations Schedule 3, 3(f)).

        As a minimum, the ADR Regulations (Schedule 3, 4) require ADR providers to have in place the following procedure in the event of a conflict of interest:
        • where possible, the ADR official is replaced by another official to handle the particular dispute
        • if the ADR official cannot be replaced, the official must refrain from conducting the alternative dispute resolution procedure and the provider must, where possible, propose to the parties that they submit the dispute to another ADR provider that is competent to deal with it.
        • If the dispute cannot be transferred to another ADR provider, the provider must inform the parties to the dispute of the circumstances of the conflict of interest and that they have the right to object to the conflicted person continuing to handle the dispute, and can only continue with the dispute if no party objects.

        We expect ADR providers to ensure that parties to the dispute understand that where the dispute is transferred to another provider, the terms and conditions of that provider will apply to both parties for that dispute.

        Where ADR officials work part-time for the ADR provider and part-time in another capacity (eg, as gambling trade association official), providers must ensure that the official is not conflicted by their non-ADR duties. Any such conflicts must be reported and dealt with in accordance with the above policy.

        To meet both the requirements of the ADR Regulations and our standards, providers will need to demonstrate that the official is not conflicted. Such demonstration could include, but is not limited to:
        • a published statement of how the ADR official’s duties are not in conflict with other duties not related to ADR
        • a published statement demonstrating how financial remuneration for the ADR official is not linked to any other duties

        Decision quality standards

        We expect the ADR provider to carry out its duties based on the following quality standards.

        Before reaching an outcome, the ADR provider:
        • examines thoroughly all of the evidence presented
        • decides the key issues, establishes the relevant facts, and identifies all necessary
        enquiries
        • asks the right questions, in the right way, to enable all the relevant facts to be
        identified
        • provides information to the parties to the dispute in such a way that clarifies the key
        issues, the facts that are known, and any information still required.

        In reaching an outcome, the provider:
        • takes full account of the relevant information provided in the dispute
        • correctly interprets and applies the law, including consumer protection legislation
        • ensures the rules of natural justice are met – that the parties know the case they
        must answer, have had fair opportunity to make their own case, and that there has been no bias

        • reaches an outcome that is reasonable in all the circumstances of the case (taking account of whether the outcome is reached through mediation or adjudication)
        • tailors each communication and outcome notification to the case, ensuring that the
        consumer’s perceived level of understanding is respected.

        The ADR provider will also need to reach the outcome of the disputes within certain timescales, as laid out in the ADR Regulations. Further information about this is contained within the Customer Service and Information section.

        Customer service and information to consumers

        The ADR process can be lengthy, and in some cases quite complex. It is important that ADR providers communicate with consumers in a way that helps to manage their expectations and increase their understanding of the process. Consumers need to understand where their dispute is within the process, how long it might take, and what their options are at any given time. This will help to improve the transparency of and consumer trust in the process.

        Providers should consider the best way to communicate with consumers. For example, it may be appropriate to communicate with some consumers by telephone rather than by email or in writing. However, if communicating with a consumer by telephone, it may still be appropriate to provide a summary of the telephone conversation by email or in writing to maintain an agreed record of the process.

        ADR Regulations – information to be displayed on the ADR provider’s website

        The ADR Regulations require providers to provide certain information on their websites. This includes information about processes operated, including:
        • contact details, postal and email addresses
        • a list of ADR officials, the method of their appointment and the duration of their
        appointment
        • a statement that the provider is approved by the relevant competent authority
        • the types of disputes it is competent to deal with, including any financial thresholds
        that apply
        • procedural rules of the ADR procedure it operates, including grounds for refusing a
        dispute
        • the language in which it is prepared to receive initial dispute submissions, and in
        which the procedure can be conducted
        • the principles it applies and the main considerations when seeking to resolve a dispute
        • any requirements that a party to a dispute needs to have met before the ADR procedure can begin
        • a statement as to whether a party to a dispute can withdraw from the ADR procedure once it has started
        • any costs to parties to a dispute, including any rules on costs awarded by the body at the end of the ADR procedure3
        • average length of each ADR procedure
        • the legal effect of the outcome of the ADR process, including whether the outcome is enforceable and any penalties for non-compliance with the outcome
        • a statement as to whether the ADR procedure it operates can be conducted by oral or written means, or both
        • The annual activity report as required by the ADR Regulations Schedule 3, 11(2).

        The Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform

        ADR providers must comply with the EU Regulation on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). The ODR platform is a requirement of the EU Regulations for consumer disputes. The platform is an automated online tool that will allow consumers to make a complaint against a trader where goods or services have been bought online. The platform provides translations in all EU languages.

        In LCCP, we go beyond the ADR Regulations and require gambling businesses to provide ADR free of
        charge for consumers

        All gambling businesses that sell goods or services to consumers online must provide on their websites a link to the ODR platform.

        ADR Regulations – the ODR platform

        Under the ADR Regulations (Schedule 3, 17 – 19, as amended), when an ADR provider receives a dispute via the ODR platform, it must:
        • notify the parties to the dispute without delay whether they agree or refuse to deal with the dispute, and transmits any refusal to the ODR platform
        • inform the parties of the provider’s procedural rules, and of any costs incurred
        • not require the physical presence of the parties, unless its procedural rules provide
        for this and parties agree
        • provide the following information to the ODR platform:
        • the date it receives all the information making up the complete complaint file
        • the subject matter of the dispute
        • the date the ADR procedure concludes
        • the result of the ADR procedures

        Providing consumers with information about ongoing disputes

        The ADR Regulations require ADR providers to provide parties to a dispute with certain information during the course of the dispute. The provider must:
        • notify all parties to a dispute as soon as it has received all of the information that makes up the complete complaint file (see definition at para 3.3 and in glossary) ADR providers should note that the Commission’s guidance to gambling businesses recommends that businesses ensure that they respond to requests from ADR providers for information about disputes in full and within ten working days (though businesses can choose what information they provide). Businesses should not unnecessarily delay providing the information that the ADR provider requests. Where the business delays in providing information without reasonable explanation, the ADR provider should consider reporting the matter to the Commission.
        • before the ADR procedure begins, informs the customer that they have the right to withdraw from the procedure at any stage
        • inform the parties that they are not obliged to have a legal adviser, but that they may seek independent advice or be represented or assisted by a third party at any stage of the alternative dispute resolution process
        • notify the parties with the outcome of the dispute within 90 days from the date on which the provider received the complete complaint file. Where the case is highly complex, the body may extend this period, but must inform the parties of this extension and how long it expects the process to take.

        We expect ADR providers to provide parties to a dispute with some additional information during the lifetime of the dispute. This will help to keep the process transparent to all parties.

        In summary, under the new standards we expect ADR providers to:
        • acknowledge receipt of the consumer’s initial contact within 3 working days. This
        may be done as part of the requirement to notify the consumer of their right to withdraw, and of their rights around independent legal advice, as per the requirements of the ADR Regulations.
        • provide an update to the consumer at the end of each 30 days that the dispute is ongoing (once the ADR provider has received all the documents that make up the complete complaint file), where the consumer has not received any other update from the ADR provider during the preceding 30 days. This update might explain to the consumer the point in the dispute procedure that the complaint has reached, the reason for any delays (where appropriate), and confirm to the consumer that the dispute process is continuing.
        • provide further updates at the end of each 30 days that the dispute is ongoing if the dispute takes longer than 90 days to complete (and where the consumer has not received any other update from the provider within the preceding 30 days).

        The ADR provider will also need to communicate with the consumer at other times outside of this process. For example, the provider will need to ensure that parties to the dispute are aware of their right to see and comment on evidence advanced by the other parties and may also need to contact parties to clarify evidence that has been put forward (see section 4, paragraph 4.6-4.7).

        Other information – appealing the outcome of the dispute

        5.11 Paragraphs 3.20 – 3.21 of this document discuss information that we expect providers to give to parties to the dispute about whether the parties can appeal the outcome of the dispute. ADR providers should ensure their policy for accepting any appeals is clear and accessible.

        Other information – complaining about the ADR provider

        Parties to a dispute may wish to complain about the ADR provider’s service. For example:
        • no information received from the ADR provider
        • delays in the dispute process
        • unsatisfactory treatment by staff
        • systems difficult to use.

        Under our standards, we expect providers to put in place and publish on their websites an effective procedure to handle complaints received about their service. The information in this procedure must include:
        • how complaints may be made
        • the types of complaints that can be raised (that is, complaints about service rather
        than about the outcomes of decisions, which should be signposted to the
        information on how to appeal)
        • a brief explanation of the process for reviewing the complaint
        • how long the process is expected to take
        • the communication the complainant can expect to receive (for example, when
        receipt of the complaint will be acknowledged, whether requests for further information will be made, how long it will take to advise of final outcome).

        Vulnerable consumers

        As part of our standards, providers will need to consider if the language the consumer has used in raising their dispute, or in any of their other communication, indicates that they might be vulnerable or need additional support to understand the ADR process. If so, then the provider may need to consider:
        • accessibility – ensuring that communication is tailored to the needs of the individual as far as is possible. Providers may also need to consider whether, for example, the consumer needs additional support or alternative means to contact them.
        • risk of harm from gambling – whether there are indications that the consumer’s gambling behaviour puts them at risk of being harmed by their gambling, or presents a risk that others (such as family members) may be harmed.
        • People at risk of harm from gambling are not always aware that they are at risk, so providers should use sensitivity and discretion when communicating with them. Providers should consider whether it is appropriate to sign-post customers to gambling management tools, self-exclusion from gambling, or an organisation that may be able to provide support. Providers are not expected to be experts in gambling-related harm and should exercise caution in any approaches.

        For more information, the Commission’s website has a dedicated section on safer gambling.

        Information on customer service performance

        ADR providers should put information on their websites about their performance against the customer service requirements outlined above.

        Providers may need to consider ‘pausing’ a dispute if the customer takes a significant amount of time to respond to requests for information or engage with the dispute resolution process. Providers should explain when this ‘pause’ is triggered within their dispute process. Providers will also need to establish and explain their procedure for closing a dispute when no contact is received from the customer.

        Evaluating customer satisfaction

        ADR providers may wish to consider measuring customer satisfaction with their service, such as post-decision surveys, and make the results of this available on their websites. Such action is at the discretion of the provider.

 

6 Complaints and disputes

6.1 Complaints and disputes

Social responsibility code provision

6.1.1 Complaints and disputes All licences (including ancillary remote licensees) except gaming machine technical and gambling software licences

1Licensees must put into effect a written procedure for handling customer complaints and disputes.

2 Licensees must also ensure that they have arrangements in place for customers to be able to refer any dispute to an ADR entity if not resolved to the customer’s satisfaction by use of their complaints procedure. It is permissible for licensees to have arrangements with more than one ADR entity and for customers to be directed to different ADR entities depending on the nature and subject matter of the dispute.

3 It is permissible for any such ADR entity to have terms enabling it to reject complaints referred for dispute resolution on the basis they are frivolous or vexatious but licensees may not refuse to refer disputes on that ground.

4 The services of any such ADR entity must be free of charge to the customer and must not be subject to terms which restrict, or purport to restrict, the customer’s right to bring proceedings against the licensee in any court of competent jurisdiction. Such terms may, however, provide for an agreed resolution of a dispute (arrived at with the assistance of the ADR entity) to be binding on both parties.

5 In this code a ‘complaint’ means a complaint about any aspect of the licensee’s conduct of the licensed activities, and a ‘dispute’ is any complaint which:

a relates to the outcome of the complainant’s gambling transaction; and

b is not resolved at the first stage of the licensee’s complaints procedure.

6 Licensees must ensure that:

a information about their complaints procedure is set out in their terms and conditions;

b such information is also readily accessible on the gambling premises or website as the case may be;

c such information includes details of how to make a complaint to the licensee and the relevant contact details;

d such information includes the identity (with contact details, which can be by way of a link from the licensee’s website) of the ADR entity or entities to whom disputes can normally be referred and, where necessary, details of any limitation on the nature and subject matter of disputes with which a particular ADR entity deals

e customers are given a copy of the complaints procedure on request or on making a complaint; and

f all complaints are handled in accordance with the procedure.

7 Should licensees refer a dispute to an ADR entity other than one in respect of which contact details were given in accordance with 6 above they must, at the same time as making the reference, inform the Commission of the reference and reason for selection of the ADR entity concerned.

8 Licensees must keep a record of all complaints that are not resolved at the first stage of the complaints procedure.

9 Licensees must arrange for a copy of the decision on, or a note of the outcome of, each dispute referred to an ADR entity to be provided to the Commission, either by the ADR entity or by the licensee. This information should be provided in such format and within such timescale as the Commission may from time to time specify.

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click2resolve

ProMediate is certified by CTSI to provide mediation services for consumer/business disputes in the UK. The charges that ProMediate is authorised to raise for each dispute dealt with are as follows:

Cost to businesses:

Value of Goods or Services

Up to £1,000                                         – £50 plus VAT

– £2,500                                                  – £75 plus VAT

– £5,000                                                  – £100 plus VAT

– £7,500                                                   – £125 plus VAT

– £10,000                                                 – £150 plus VAT

Payment can be made here for individual disputes:

Business Membership fee £100 plus VAT – sign up here……

Cost to Consumers:

Value of Goods or Services

Up to £1,000                                          – £10 plus VAT

£2,500                                                     – £25 plus VAT

£5,000                                                      – £50 plus VAT

£7,500                                                       – £75 plus VAT

£10,000                                                    – £100 plus VAT

The above charges are based upon 1 hour of mediator time. Disputes above this value can exit the scheme and be dealt with by ProMediate’s general mediation service.

It is a term of the Click2Resolve scheme that the business and consumer must consent to use the service, before instructing us.

Payment by Consumers can be made here……

Mediation Set up Service

If you contact us without first getting the other person or business to agree to use our service, we will contact them to try to obtain their agreement.

In those circumstances we do charge a set up fee for this service. It is sometimes possible to resolve your dispute informally after one or two calls without even booking a mediation appointment!

When we receive an initial enquiry we crack on immediately trying to make contact with the other side in the dispute, emailing info, leaving messages on the telephone and even text messages. Our working hours are never 9-5 and we will often make contact at a time that meets the needs of our clients, evenings and weekends included.

Sometimes one side requires key information before they will agree to mediate. We will often liaise with all concerned to make sure this is shared. Once contact is made there will be further to-ing and fro-ing to set up the appointment, documents sent out and making sure everyone is comfortable with the process.

We charge the following fees for contacting the other party in this way:

Value of Goods or services:

Up to £1,000 – £10 plus VAT

– £2,500       – £25 plus VAT

–  £2,500 upwards – £50 plus VAT

If you have already discussed your case with one of our mediators and need to pay your set up fee click below to pay by PayPal (if you need an alternative payment method please contact our office on 01928734630). (click below to make a payment)